It was the time of day when the world takes on many colors, transcending from sunshine to twilight. Alexis swayed slowly back and forth in a woven hammock, contemplatively watching the wind. It created tiny, triangular waves in the ocean and teased the palm fronds above her into movement. The tone of her tanned skin had been deepened by a day in the sun, and it was strikingly contrasted with the red string bikini and yellow trunks. On the ground near the hammock was a checkered blanket, nostalgic wicker basket, two wineglasses, an empty bottle of vino and a platter of half-eaten fruits and cheeses.
Tonight was her last night in paradise. The picnic was over. The man she had shared it with was in the air somewhere over the Pacific, returning home. The sun was leaving. Tomorrow, so would she.
She closed her eyes, letting her hand dangle loosely, fingering grains of sand. She didn’t want to go home. The place she was in seemed detached from reality; she liked it there. It was as if this was the place she had searched for all her life and now had to depart from it. Part of her knew that she had to go, while another part wanted to stay, for there really was nothing waiting for her back home. She had already lost her job at the publishing house, which she had worked at for twelve years, because of the economy taking a nose dive. This trip was a get-away that her friends had given her, to cheer herself up and get her confidence back. She only wished that the man she had been with was still there right now. Even though she didn’t know him that well, his company made her feel relaxed. Still, there was something about him that attracted her to him. As she lay there in the hammock watching the brilliance of the sunset, there was something deep inside of her that she wished she could have found something that she was not sure about right at the moment. Her whole life she had dreamed of a place like this, but never thought that she would actually be here. Now that she was, she found herself missing something that would have made it perfect. Or at least that was what she thought. There was something about the coming night that brought about an unsettling feeling in the warm air. Alexis never really thought about it too much, feeling that it was something that really didn’t matter. But even that really didn’t convince her, for she still felt the cold, unsettling feeling, which ran down her spine every time. Even now as she sun slowly sank into the darkening waters of the ocean, she was able to feel it. Of course, she made herself believe that it really didn’t matter now. For within the morning she would be gone. The only thing was that she would still have to get through the night.
Slowly, she swung her legs over the edge of the side of the hammock and stood up. Making her way to the beach, she could feel the warm breeze caressing her tanned flesh. She had no idea where she was going and in a way it really didn’t matter. The only thing that did was that she had to enjoy her last night in paradise. She had been to the clubs on the island already and none of them really suited her. Even though she lover to dance, she wasn’t in the mood for that.
She made her way to the surf, letting the gentle waves caress her bare feet as she walked. The further she moved down the beach, she didn’t see anyone that lived around her and those who did were probably in town enjoying the nightlife. The warm breeze came off the Pacific gently caressing her face and ruffling a few strands of her amber hair. For some reason she felt that there was something about this tropical paradise that she had, which taunted her the whole time she had been here. Alexis really wasn’t sure about it, and in a way she tried not to think about it. For what was the use, when she knew that she was leaving in the morning. Still, it was something that she could not get out of her mind. The only thing she wanted to know was what that could be.
As she looked at the brilliance of the setting sun, she felt a soothing feeling come over her. As if nothing really mattered anymore to her. Listening to the rolling tide coming in and feeling the cool water of the sea licking her feet, just completes the serenity of the moment which surrounded her. In a way this island was like something out of a dream, one which she wished she didn’t have to be taken away from. She had seen many sunsets before since she had been here, but this one seemed special to her. As if there was something, which it was going to bring about once the last rays of sunlight dwindled into nothing. She just stood there watching the entire miraculous moment of it, in silent awe. And in a way she felt sort of say about it at the same time. The kind of sadness, which someone would feel when a good friend would leave, knowing that you would never see them again in their lifetime. Alexis felt as if there was something that was missing within her, an empty part of her that had been taken away. The only thing that she knew was that is was something that she couldn’t let it concern her now.
“Why did you have to leave? Why couldn’t you have left when I would have to?” she whispered under her breath.
Questions which she knew there was no answers to, even though she wanted to find them. The sound of the surf echoing around her, sounded like some sort of soft lullaby, But there was something else in the air, something so faint that no one could even detect. The one thing she couldn’t understand was why she could? To her it almost sounded like the voices of people around her. Whispering so softly, that she could not make out what was being said. But she could still hear them, even though most of them were crying. But why? That was the one thing she could not understand. That and why it was that she was hearing them.
“Great, I am going crazy. I am hearing voices…the first sign of madness.” She thought.
Her arms crossed over her chest, as her body suddenly shivered in a moment of fright. Not knowing why it was that she had suddenly started feeling this way. Only that, this was something that she now could not escape from. Her eyes stayed focused on the fading sunlight, as a tear ran down her cheek. How she wished the light wouldn’t leave her. That she could feel its warming glow on her tanned flesh once again. It felt to her as if she would never see the sunlight again, which of course was a foolish thought all together. But if it was true? She never really thought about it. Alexis had no idea why she felt that way, or even how that thought had come into her mind. Now that it was though, it started to haunt her brain. The surf now seemed to sound like a whispering voice, calling out her name. With each rolling wave that came into the shore, she could head the voice of the man that she had spent the day with. Because of her hearing this, made her miss him even more. A man who she hardly knew and now couldn’t remember his name. In her mind she could still see his face. Those hazel eyes that stared at her with such compassion. Short amber hair that she would have loved to run her fingers through and a voice so soothing to her ears. Oh, how she wished that he was with her right now. To hold her in his arms, so that she would know that what she was experiencing was nothing more than an illusion of her mind. The way he had held her before, feeling the warmth of his body against hers. As she would hear his voice whispering in her ear. What words he would say to her wouldn’t matter, for it was the tone of his voice that she found alluring. More than she had ever felt with any other man before.
She could feel the gentle surf continuing to caress her feet, as the tears continued to flow down her cheeks. Along with that she could feel was a sudden pain within her chest. A throbbing, burning pain that made her believe that her heart was going to explode through her chest. Not sure why it was happening to her, as her mind raced with the multitude of random thoughts. Yet, they were not thoughts of madness, or just sudden things that popped in her head. It was of her past; of things that she hadn’t thought of for so many years. Her childhood…her first crush…her first kiss…and everything else in her life that she had embraced and endured. Alexis had no idea why she was feeling this way or why she was remembering all this right now. Once again she felt the same chill run down her spine, while the pain in her chest throbbed again.
“God, let this end.” She begged in a soft voice.
Right when she said that, the pain had subsided, as if God himself was listening directly to her. Her breath was rapid, as she felt the beads of sweat rolling down the sloping flesh of her breasts. The last fading glow of the light diminished within the shadows of the night, as she felt herself wanting to scream. But, not a sound came from her lips. As she stood there motionlessly.
“What do I do now?” she said to herself, as if she expected something to answer her.
All she could hear though was the tide rolling onto the shore as the air turned cooler, caressing her flesh. Slowly she turned and made her way back to the beach house, trying to make herself believe that none of this happened. Yet, she knew too well that it did and wouldn’t be able to forget about it. She found herself within the shadows of the night, as she continued down the beach toward the house; she had the strangest feeling that there was something different around her. Of course, she knew that was impossible, yet the feeling was still there. The whispering voices continued to float upon the breeze, even though she still could not make out what was being said. And the more that she tried to ignore it, the stronger their sound became. Till finally, she stopped and looked around her, as if expecting to see someone near her. All that she could see though was the long stretch of beach and the darkened shadows of the night.
“Who are you? What do you want with me?” she screamed as she franticly turned around in every direction.
But the shadows didn’t answer her, as the silence seemed to grow even stronger around her. Now she was really starting to believe that she was going mad. She stood there for a moment, trying to calm her down. While her mind tried to search for a logical explanation to what was happening. In the end though there would not be any to be found.
Alexis started to move again, concentrating on just getting back to the hammock, back to the patio where she would feel safe. For some reason, the walk seemed longer than before. She could have sworn that she had only gone a few feet away from her place. But now it seemed more like a mile. She tried not to think about it, as her stride quickened. The cool breeze lifted the ends of her long amber hair and caressed her face like some invisible lover. When she reached the hammock, she stood there staring down at the ground. Noticing the blanket and all the remains of the picnic she had shared were now gone. Even her footprints in the sand had vanished. She knew that she hadn’t straightened up everything before she had taken a walk. So how could it be that everything was gone?
“This is getting to be more than I can handle.” She said to herself.
She just stood there watching the breeze gently making the hammock sway back and forth. For a brief instant she started to think that someone was in it, because of the way it sagged in the middle of it. Even though she knew that was impossible, it still appeared that way to her. And there was also the sound of a child giggling that seemed to echo around her. This sound she was able to hear clearly, as if the child was right next to her. It was the voice of a little girl, humming some sort of song. Alexis looked down at the sand and noticed something written in it, in big letters. It hadn’t been there a moment ago, but it was now and she had no idea how it got there. It was only one word, but her eyes stayed focused on it. MANES . Alexis had no idea what it could mean and in a way probably would be grateful that she didn’t. But just seeing that word written in the sand brought about a sense of terror that flowed through her. She knew that it was a Latin word, but in the state that she was in right now, she couldn’t have been able to translate it. Before she could even think of what to do, her foot swept over the word, erasing it from the sand, the way someone would erase a chalkboard. Then she took a step back, staring at that area of sand, as if she expected something to happen. And that is exactly what did.
She could see something scratching through the sand, writing once again. The only thing was, there was nothing doing it. It formed two words this time, as Alexis stood there, paralyzed, not believing that this was happening. There in the sand was written two simple words, which terrified her beyond belief. STOP THAT!
Alexis could feel her body shaking wildly in fear as her legs became numb and weak. Knowing that at any moment, they would give in, making her body collapse to the ground. Underneath those to words was written something else. Something which she knew that she really didn’t need to see. YOU’RE DEAD! Just from the sight of that, her body gave way as she collapsed onto the ground. She started to cry again, this time harder than before. Once she started, she found herself unable to stop. Her hands covered her face, refusing to let herself see what other things would be revealed in the sand.
“This isn’t happening. It is impossible. Things like this just don’t happen.” She said to herself, between her weeping.
Without her removing her hands from her face, she got to her feet and took a couple steps back. Not really caring about if she would have tripped over something. The only thing that she wanted was to get away. To find someone….anyone, so that way she would know that she was not alone. She removed her hands from her face, turned and started to run down the beach. Her breath even more rapid now as she pushed herself to run even faster than she ever had. Even though Alexis didn’t know where she was going, all that she wanted was to get away from this nightmare. Around her she could hear the muffled voice becoming louder, repeating the same word over and over again. This time though they all were joined together, as if they had become one voice. YOUR DEAD…YOUR DEAD….YOUR DEAD… Her eyes wide with fear, as the sight that she had just seen, now haunted her mind. Her thighs throbbed in pain, yet she didn’t stop she felt that she couldn’t go anymore. When she stopped, her body hunched over as she tried to catch her breath. The pain surging through her entire body, too strong for her to ignore, no matter how hard she tried. The only thing that she wanted was to forget about everything. To wake up and realize that this was nothing more than some horrible, bizarre dream. Of course somewhere in her mind, she knew that it wasn’t.
It was then she heard the faint sound of music, as she stayed hunched over, trying to catch her breath. But it wasn’t that, that caught her attention and brought about that uneasy feeling again. No, this was the feeling that someone was watching her closely. Gradually her body became erect, feeling the pain surging up her spine from her thighs. When she did this her eyes were closed tightly, trying to endure it and in a way, afraid of what she might see. Even though, in her wildest imagination, she could not even begin to think of what it might be that would be before her. Alexis knew though that she couldn’t stay like that all night that sooner or later she would have to look and see what would be there. When she did she could see a bonfire off in the distance, with the silhouettes of people around it. She was thankful for that, for at least now she knew that she was not alone. But then something else caught her attention, which made that secure feeling slowly fade away. Through the shadows of the night, she was able to see the dark image of the silhouette of a man standing there. She wasn’t sure if he was looking at her or not, but it felt like it to her. For she could feel his stare, that was if it was human at all, burning through her. It pointed to bonfire, making it obvious that it wanted her to go to it for some reason. Whoever or whatever it was, it never spoke or even made a sound to her. Just stood there ominously, pointing her in the direction she had to go. Her eyes looked at the bonfire in the distance again, wondering what it could be that was waiting for her. When she looked back at the shadowy figure, it vanished just as mysteriously as it had appeared. At that moment she really didn’t think about it, for her attention now was on the gathering at the bonfire. As she moved toward it she could see the silhouettes of people dancing in front of the large bonfire, and started to hear their voices. The music was a song which seemed familiar to her, yet she couldn’t remember the name of it. It was one of those songs that the melody brought back a certain memory from the past. Songs often did that with some people, and Alexis was one of them. She just ignored the memory, which was trying to manifest in her mind, for she was more interested in finding out what was happening to her.
She reached the edge of the glow of the fire on the sand; she stood there, looking at the group of people at the gathering, while that uneasy feeling once again crept up on her. Even though she knew that she should walk away, there was something that drew her to it. More than she had ever felt before in her life and knew that she could not resist it. The only thing she was hoping for was just to find out what she needed to know from the people there. That was if there was anything to really be known. As she moved closer, she could hear a voice inside her head speaking to her.
“Don’t do this. Walk away and don’t look back. You are going to regret it.” The voice said.
Of course, Alexis ignored it, for she needed to know the truth, no matter what. As she made her way to the crowd, she could feel the air turning cold, sending a chill running through her body, as it brushed against her flesh. Even though she ignored it as she moved, her body still shivered. When she made her way through the crowd, she could hear some of the conversations, and none of them made any sense to her. Even though she really didn’t care what was being said. It seemed that she was searching for someone, even though she had no idea who that could be. It was then, Alexis saw him through the crowd. The man that she had shared the afternoon with. She had thought that maybe he had changed his mind and decided to stay. What she couldn’t understand was why hadn’t he come back to her? Yet, that didn’t matter now.
Slowly, she made her way to him, her eyes stayed focused on him. As she moved, she noticed that no one was even glancing her way as she passed. As if she didn’t even exist. She knew that she wasn’t anyone important, but at least someone would be curious when a stranger would walk through their party. To Alexis this was nothing that she hadn’t experienced in the past. Always being the one that everyone ignored for one reason or another. Still the sound of their voices and the smell of the burning wood and perfume on a couple of the women she passed made her happy. The only thing that she concentrated on was him. Just to be in his arms again, feeling his body pressed against hers. When she got closer to him, she could see him smiling at her. She was entranced by him; his short brown hair….hazel eyes….everything about him astounded her.
“Alexis, you found me. I knew that you would. I have been waiting for you.” He said in such a compassionate tone.
“What are you doing here? I thought you were on your way home?” she said.
“I was….” He started to say and then was silent.
His hand reached up and touched the side of her face, so gently. His touch thrilled her so much, that she thought she would not be able to contain it. She wanted him to continue to tell her why he was there. In a way, she was hoping that he would be able to explain what was going on with herself. That was if he would be able to.
“Tell me! I want to know what is going on!” she said in an angered voice.
“Calm down. It is not going to do you any good to get so emotional.” He said.
Even though what he said did make sense, she still found herself unable to do so. It wasn’t anger that she was feeling, it was her anxiety over what she had experienced so far. But, when she looked at him, she could feel her body relax. He laughed slightly and yet she couldn’t figure out what he had found so funny. Beyond that, all that she could think about was how grateful she was to be with him. When she looked at him, she felt as if the world around them had disappeared. Leaving only them within a world all their own. Then she glanced around her at the crowd, seeing some of them have a brief expression on dread on their faces. That and of confusion, which she found herself wanting to forget about it all. The only thing was, she wanted to know what was happening. Then she turned back to him.
“What I am going to tell you, you are not going to believe. Probably even think that I am crazy.” He said.
Alexis didn’t say anything at first, even though there had been things she had witnessed that she could not handle. Still, she needed to know the truth. No matter what it could be.
“Tell me, I want to know the truth.” She said in a serious tone.
“I will…but first I want to ask you something. Do you remember how you got here? How you got to this island?” he asked as he moved closer to her.
The scent of his cologne lingered around her, making it difficult for her to think. The scent that she had remembered when he was with her before. But it was what he said that stayed locked within her mind now. Burning her, waiting for her to answer it. The only thing was, she didn’t know what the answer really way. All that she could remember was being here in her beach house. How she had arrived there had suddenly become like a faded dream. She strived to find the answer, yet something in her mind wouldn’t let her do that. The tribal rhythmic beat of the music echoed around her, as she tried to think about what she would say to him.
“I…I don’t know. I really can’t remember. I don’t know why.” She said is a distraught voice.
“I do, that is if you want to know.” He replied as his arms wrapped around her.
“I want to…please tell me.” She said as she rested her head on his shoulder.
For a moment they just stood there motionlessly. Feeling his hand moving up and down her hack so gently, as her body wanted to give itself to him. Then she lifted her head and gazed into his eyes, finding herself becoming lost within them. The music and the voices of the people around them, suddenly was silenced. All that she could hear was his voice. While everything around them vanished. It seemed almost like a dream, one that she could not find her way out of. In a way though, she really didn’t want to. All that she found herself wanting was to be with him. To kiss him, like she had longed to from the moment she had met him. The only thing was, she couldn’t remember when she had.
“I want you to tell me what is going on. What is happening to me?” she said in somewhat of a panicked tone.
Feeling him pulling her even closer to him now, brought a moment of relief to her. To feel the contact of someone’s body against hers. She could hear his breath in her ear, as she wished that this moment would never end. Right then, she could have heard him say anything and it wouldn’t have mattered. It was then that she heard him whispering in her ear.
“The reason you can’t remember when you arrived here, is because you are dead. That is why no one can see you .” he whispered.
“But you can see me, hear me. And I can feel you touching me and me touching you. How can it be that you can, but no one else can?” she said as she pulled back from him.
Her eyes looked at him with such seriousness on her face, as the fear began to build within her. If what he said was true, then she already knew what his answer would be. The only thing that she wanted was to hear him say it. To reassure that which she was starting to believe.
“That’s because… I am dead too. The plane I was on crashed into the ocean. And then the next thing that I knew, I found myself here. Back here with you.” He said and then hesitated for a brief moment. “Do you remember? You were on the plane with me. You are your friend Stephanie and her fiancé, Mike?”
He pointed to the side of them, where a couple stood a few feet from them. There was Stephanie with her long, flowing blond hair, wearing a white tee-shirt and denim mini skirt. Her clothes were covered in blood, ripped in a few places, her organs hanging out of the large gashes. Her fiancé was standing next to her, dressed in black, medium length red hair. His body seemed to have been severed even more than hers, blood pouring down to the sandy ground. In a way she was glad that they were dead, after the way they had taken advantage of her for their own lustful, perverted desires. Stephanie had been her best friend ever since high school, someone that she had thought she had trusted. But that moment when her fiancé made the moves on her, forcing her into a three-some, made it impossible for her to stay friends. They stood there looking at her with such innocent expressions on their faces. Alexis didn’t respond, for even though it happened a year ago, she still felt the burning rage about what they had done to her.
“Both of you deserve the hell that you get.” She whispered under her breath.
The sand beneath their feet suddenly started to move, in a circular motion. At first it was nothing more than a breeze upon the ground, but within seconds, it turned into a swirling vortex. Their bodies levitated over the opening of the large pit, as the flames of hell rose up to meet them. Their clothes and hair ignited as they screamed out in such terrifying agony. She watched as their flesh slowly melted, deforming them into nothing more than some hideous abomination. As they melted their bodies became one, arms and legs thrashing as their screams for help, suddenly became nothing more that some ghastly sound. Then their bodies fell into the flames, as the last of their screams and cries for help were silenced. When they disappeared into the darkness of the pit, the ground closed in, making it look as if nothing had happened. Then she turned to him, her face showing a mixture of shock and disgust.
“We really are dead, aren’t we?” she said as a tear ran down her cheek.
“I’m sorry to tell you this…but, yes…we are.” He said in a kind voice.
It was then that everything started to make sense to her. In her mind, she could see herself trapped in the seat of the airplane, crushed against twisted metal as the water from the ocean flooded the cabin. Knowing that there was no way she could escape. And feeling his hand hold hers tightly as the last ounce of her breath escaped her forever. And then that word too, which had been written on the sand, suddenly came back to her. MANES. Now she was able to remember what it really meant…dead. The pain in her chest subsided, as a sudden moment of peace enveloped her. Could it really be that she had died? It seemed like something that she really didn’t want to accept. But there was no way she could avoid it. She looked at him, the sorrow and fear evident on her face. Alexis stepped into his arms, as her sorrow was released the moment she felt his touch.
“What…What are we going to do?” she asked in such a terrified voice.
“I don’t know. But whatever happens, I will be with you through it…” he said in a soft voice and then hesitated for a moment. “I…I love you. I never thought I would say that to anyone again. But, do.”
Alexis looked up at him, knowing that what he said was the truth. She could tell from the look in his eyes, the expression on his face and the tone in his voice. The more she was in his arms, the more she was able to except the truth. Her heart suddenly filled with such passion that she had never felt before.
“I love you too.” She said in a soft voice.
Then their lips met in such a soft, tender embrace. Holding each other tight, as she finally found the one thing that had been missing in this paradise. The one thing that had let her passion run free. That which she had been so afraid of to let go.
The sun slowly rose over the horizon, burning it with brilliant colors of red, orange and yellow to the East. Time seemed to pass by quickly, hours becoming more like minutes and yet, it seemed to mean nothing to them. They stood there locked within the passionate embrace, their bodies pressed against each other. The bonfire that had been a blaze within the night a moment ago was now nothing more than black ashes upon the golden sands. Alexis knew there was nothing that she could do about what had happened to them. They were trapped in between two worlds, not knowing what was going to come about. And in a way, she really didn’t care. The only ting that did to her was being with him. They were ghostly lovers, bound together for all eternity. To everyone else they were nothing more than a brief image to someone, or maybe an eerie chill that would run down someone’s spine. In the real world, the world of the living, they were nothing more than figments of someone’s imagination.
As the morning sun slowly started to shine upon them, they started to fade away. Like the shadows, disappearing to some other place that they didn’t know of. For all they knew, this could be their idea of heaven. For after all, wasn’t heaven suppose to be God’s own…Paradise.
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